The Cabin In The Woods: Don’t Read A Single Review Until You See This Film
Stop what you’re doing right now. Ask yourself, “Have I seen Cabin In The Woods yet?” If you haven’t, remedy this problem immediately—race out, buy tickets, and see the film that is to date the best film of 2012. You don’t have to be a horror fan to see it (though I’m sure it would help). You don’t have to like Joss Whedon. You don’t have to think Chris Hemsworth is hot. You have to like movies that are fun, original, and brave… and you have to trust me when I tell you that the trailers don’t even come close to showing this film’s true colors. So many people have told me Cabin in the Woods looks like your average dime-a-dozen teens-slaughtered-in-the-woods flick, when nothing could be farther from the truth. The biggest problem with Cabin in the Woods is that there is no way to tell your friends what it’s about without ruining some of the surprise—it is a movie that will be completely reliant not on word of mouth, but on the phrase “trust me.” And trust me: Cabin in the Woods is going to go down as one of the most fun, exciting, and well-executed films of 2012. Within is a totally spoiler-free review.
I will not reveal how the movie begins, because the film has such an unconventional beginning that I found myself squirming in my seat with excitement after the first couple of minutes. I will tell you the main plotline: Dana (Kristen Connolly) is getting ready for a vacation. Curt (Chris Hemsworth) and his friends know of a cabin that a family member recently purchased that they’ll go party at for a weekend, away from cell phones, computers, and every other part of the rat race. Coming along is Curt’s girlfriend Jules (Anna Hutchison), their stoner buddy Marty (Fran Kranz), and Curt’s hunky friend Holden (Jesse Williams), who seems like a perfect match for the sexually tentative Dana. While driving out, they encounter a menacing gas station attendant who warns them that getting out to the cabin isn’t the problem… it’s coming back. They dismiss the ravings of this seemingly insane old codger and head on toward their vacation. What they find when they get there I will leave you to discover. DO NOT LOOK AT IMDB TO SEE WHO ELSE IS IN THIS FILM.
Why am I ranting and raving and using all caps to try to prevent spoilers? Because we live in a society of instant gratification—if we want a movie spoiled, we can Google it: someone has spilled the beans via a script review or a preview screening. Studios are more than happy to spoil their own films themselves, by putting the biggest, funniest, and most expensive moments directly into the trailer. This practice is beyond infuriating, as the purpose of a trailer should be to lure an audience, to say, “Did you like this? Then you’ll love everything that we’re NOT showing you!” If Psycho was released today, spoilers would have splashed all over the internet and we would’ve seen Janet Leigh’s murder in the trailer. If The Crying Game was released today, Jaye Davidson’s penis would have its own Twitter parody account. It is now routine practice to show clips from the final half hour of the film in the trailer. Funny how most of my favorite films of 2012—The Grey, 21 Jump Street, and now Cabin In The Woods—don’t begin to hint at what their film achieves in the trailer. This film in particular uses primarily clips from the first act of the film, and maybe flashes of imagery from the second. The third act is, and will hopefully continue to be, a mystery until a viewer sees the film in its entirety.
Here’s what little I can tell you about the film: it has exploded the way you will look at the cabin-horror-movie genre forever. The performances are strong, resilient, physical and witty. The special effects are predominantly practical with a few notable CGI exceptions, but holy lord, the CGI moments are worth it. There is at least one death that had my audience laugh, gasp, groan, laugh again, and cheer, in that order, due to an unexpected weapon. There are plenty of masterfully executed jump-scares, along with perfectly timed comedic relief of suspense. I laughed beginning to end, and when I wasn’t laughing, I was sitting in my chair wondering how a script like this made it in this form from page to screen, and how a movie studio decided to go ahead with distributing a film knowing full well they’d be unable to market it. There is so much in the last half, maybe even two-thirds of the film, that would be absolutely dynamite in a contemporary trailer, and they’ve done the right thing and shown restraint. Bravo to everyone involved—this is an example of how movies should be written, filmed, edited, and marketed in an ideal world. I realize I’ve given you very little concrete information to hang your hat on when I tell you that Cabin In The Woods is not only the best film in the first four months of 2012 but a movie you absolutely must see on Friday to save yourself from horrible spoiler-filled human beings and publications. All I can tell you is… trust me.